Odd Guns: The Calico M-900 9mm

    This is the second installment of the “Odd Guns” series I started last month when I covered the VP70z pistol, and I figured that I might as well keep the 9mm train rolling.

    Honestly I have some truly odd guns, but the Calico may well take the cake as the oddest. The funky magazine and post modern styling make the gun stand out in my safe and prompt responses such as “is that Buck Roger’s gun?” and “Quaid, start the reactor!” (please tell me you get this reference).

    Anyways, the Calico is a 9mm roller delayed blowback gun that functions like an MP5 in terms of the way the action works:


    Rollers located on the bolt head engage the trunnion/receiver:



    The idea of a cylindrical magazine has been around for a long time. Even the USA was interested in the 1941 Johnson rifle as a possible service weapon, but it was defeated by the Garand:


    However the most well known gun using a cylindrical magazine is perhaps the Soviet Bizon, a fully automatic AK variant that feeds from the bottom instead of the top like the Calico:


    It is also noteworthy that the Calico was originally designed as a submachine gun. After all, who wouldn’t want to blast away watching rounds make their way down the helical magazine on full auto? While I have heard rumors that there are transferables out there, I have never seen one. Regardless, here is an old promotional video that some of you might enjoy:

    So how does the gun shoot? Well first you have to painstakingly load the gun’s massive 100 round magazine… and then wind it 23 times:


    It legitimately feels like a wind up toy.

    Anyways, my friend Chase volunteered to be the trigger man for this one… and this is what happened:

    So yeah, the gun is not reliable with the 100 round magazine at all. In fact, we kept having to unjam and unjam it after every 5 or 6 rounds:




    With the 50 round magazine though the gun works very well. Chase again was the trigger man and plinked the metal targets with ease:



    So perhaps my 100 round mag is defective, but who knows. That said, when the Calico runs it is great fun. The sights are funky (located on the magazine) but the mag locks in very solid and the front post is attached to the receiver and is adjustable. All in all, the gun is not horribly inaccurate… but the idea behind the weapon system is volume of fire so I suppose it being accurate is just a bonus.

    So what killed the Calico? Well, the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban restricted firearms to 10 round mags which basically meant the Calico was not allowed to sell the magazines, which was the most desirable feature of the guns. However… Calico is in fact still around! After the Ban expired in 2004, the company rose like a phoenix and began producing guns again.

    All in all I like shooting the gun… when it works, but here is a breakdown.

    The Good:

    • Light
    • Reasonably accurate
    • Excellent capacity
    • Strong action relative to a straight blowback gun
    • Collapsible stock
    • Easy to clean and work on
    • Pretty decent trigger
    • Striker fired
    • Affordable (I see them in the $600 range)

    The Bad:

    • You have to wind magazines up (23 times for the 100 round mag, 10 for the 50)
    • Not a great cheek weld
    • Mags are cumbersome as heck

    The Ugly:

    • Questionable reliability
    • The prices of magazines are insane
    • Full auto is almost essential to making this weapon concept valid

    So that’s that. All in all I like shooting the Calico M-900 so long as my shooting buddies load and wind the magazines!

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.